The wife of President Michael D Higgins has come in for criticism over her comments on abortion.
In a reference to fatal foetal abnormalities, Sabina Higgins said it was an “outrage” against women that in the case of “foetal abnormality”, a person should be “made carry” the baby.
She was speaking after a debate organised by the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland in Trinity College last week.
“There has to be the choice that you know that, what do you call it, that foetal abnormality, that the person or persons should be made carry, you know, and sit in, you know. These are really outrages against women and outrages against the world and nature,” Mrs Higgins said.
Newly re-elected Senator Rónán Mullen said her comments were “regrettable”.
“Many of those who voted for her husband in the 2011 presidential election would have done so on the understanding that there would be no inappropriate interference from the presidential household in political matters”, he said.
“In her comments, she has failed to speak to the experience of all families who received a tragic diagnosis during a pregnancy - and many will have been deeply wounded by her denial of their deceased children's dignity and rights”, he added.
The Life Institute has said the “attack on the Constitutional right to life of unborn babies” by Mrs Higgins was “an absolute abuse of power and privilege”.
Spokeswoman Niamh Uí Bhriain said her comments “were particularly offensive to families who had lost a child to a life-limiting condition”.
“The President’s wife is unelected but uses the platform of the supposedly non-political office of her husband to amplify her support for abortion,” Ms Uí Bhriain said.
“The fact that she has targeted babies with a disability to justify an abortion call is, in my view, reprehensible”.
“ It is shameful to see Ms Higgins use the language of discrimination - misinformed and discriminatory phrases like ‘fatal foetal abnormality’, which are not a medical diagnosis – despite a call by parents for an end to this language and discriminatory attitudes towards unborn babies with a severe disability”.